Associated Press NBA writer Tim Reynolds dropped by CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench during Game 4 of the NBA Finals. In fact, he dropped by late in the third quarter, when Cleveland was closing the gap on Golden State.
“The winner of this game is the NBA champion,” Reynolds declared. “I said Golden State in seven before the series, and I stick with it. I think Cleveland – if they lose this game – I think all those aches and pains, they’re going to start to feel them now. And yeah, they get two days off, but that also means you get two days off to stew after a loss and another long flight and all that.”
The Cavaliers trailed Golden State by double figures before closing to within three points in the final minute of the third quarter. But then Stephen Curry hit a three. Then the Warriors went on a run.
Cleveland lost, 103-82.
Thursday was the first time in this series that the undermanned Cavaliers truly looked undermanned. They didn’t – or couldn’t – close on shooters, and their shots from the perimeter weren’t falling. LeBron James and Matthew Dellavedova received treatment every time they were on the bench, the Cavs’ medical staff hoping to ward off cramps and dehydration.
“I’m not saying it because it’s the team I covered, but Cleveland in this series reminds me of the 2006 Heat,” Reynolds said. “There’s no comparison because of the injuries. Dwyane played out of his mind in that series. Shaq was still very effective at that time. Antoine Walker had a great Finals. Jason Williams had a great final, but they beat Dallas – they beat a team of superior talent at that time – because one guy got crazy hot: Dwyane putting up numbers similar to what LJ is doing now. But they just outworked them. They just outworked Dallas. That’s what Cleveland has had to do is just play crazy. Doesn’t matter what hurts, you got all summer to get better; we just have to outwork Golden State. That’s what they’ve been doing. That’s why they have a chance.”
The Warriors, meanwhile, haven’t looked anything like the team that won 67 games this season. As Scott Ferrall pointed out, though, the regular season means nothing; the playoffs are big-boy basketball – and, at times, the Warriors haven’t been up to the task.
“The West this year was light years ahead of the East,” Reynolds said, “but what the West was this year was a lot of high-octane fancy cars. Cleveland is the monster truck. It’s not going to win a track meet, but it’s going to crush your Bentley. The East is just tougher. It’s like hockey: The tougher team in the next three games is going to be the team with the cup. That’s it. That’s the only thing it comes down to. Not hot goalie, not anything else. It’s going to be who’s tougher. Golden State hasn’t had to be tough because the West was very finesse-y this year. It wasn’t a grind-it-out West. The East was ugly. Eastern Conference basketball was a war, and in the Finals they let you get a little grabby. It’s taken Golden State three-and-a-half games to adjust. But Cleveland, they bump them, they grab them, they tug them a little bit. Golden State’s not used to that. If they can overcome it, they win. If they can’t, they’re just going to have to tip their cap and say, ‘We got to get tougher this summer – or else we might never win one.’”